Bitten by Bulldogs, buried the Bison
Two weekend series, two splits. That seems to be the early season recipe for Idaho soccer, as the Vandals once again lost their Friday match before winning Sunday.
The Vandals (2-2) started the home stand at Guy Wicks Field Friday when they faced regional rival Gonzaga. After taking a quick 1-0 lead against the visiting Bulldogs (2-1) via a Jill Flockhart goal in the 10th minute, Idaho fell onto the back foot, surrendering three goals to the visitors before halftime.
Idaho coach Pete Showler said he was happy with how the game started, but the team needs to show a more complete effort.
“I’m never happy to lose and neither are the girls. First 15 minutes we controlled the game, goal came from some great passing moves and combination play,” Showler said. “We were controlling the game and once we score the goal, we take our foot off the pedal and nobody stepped up to challenge people to be better on the pitch at that time, and those are things we need to learn.”
Gonzaga, the taller and more physical of the two teams, dictated Idaho’s style of play in the first half, making defenders play more balls over the top to Idaho’s wingers which led to very little link-up play between the forwards and midfielders.
Down 3-1 at halftime, Idaho came out a much different team in the second half, controlling possession, playing through the midfield and creating good goal-scoring chances.
Senior midfielder Megan Lopez said the second half was played the way she knows her team can perform.
“Gonzaga plays a very direct ball to their forwards, so a lot of the play early bypassed the midfield since we were tracking the ball over our heads,” Lopez said. “Our defense in the second half did a really good job of settling the ball, we were tracking our players a little better so we were able to get involved more and that showed.”
That midfield play ended up leading to Idaho’s second goal of the game as freshman forward Meli Cortez took a one-time pass from midfielder Amber Pimley inside the and box and chipped it over Gonzaga keeper Susan Brown to bring the Vandals within one.
Idaho was able to keep the Bulldogs off the scoreboard in the second half, but it was just too little, too late for the Vandals, who dropped the game 3-2.
The time for short memories was now for the Vandals, as they had to step right back on their home pitch Sunday to face the North Dakota State Bison (1-3) who had just come off their first win of the season Friday against Eastern Washington.
The first half against NDSU resembled the first against Gonzaga, with the more physical, direct opponent imposing their style. Unlike the match against the Bulldogs, neither side was able to find the back of the net in the first 45 minutes.
The deadlock was broken in the 70th minute when Flockhart streaked up the right side, cut the ball back toward goal and fed it into the feet of senior Chelsea Small, who turned onto her left foot and slotted it into the goal for the game’s first score.
The game’s second goal came 12 minutes later when sophomore midfielder Katie Baran took a through ball down the left side and crossed it into junior forward Breanna Wilson, who hit it first time off the crossbar and into the net, securing the 2-0 Vandal win.
Idaho finished the match with 24 shots and nine on goal compared to NDSU’s four total and one on goal.
Wilson, who was part of a three player rotation with Erica Hart and Cortez, notched her first career goal as a Vandal, a moment she hoped would happen sooner.
“The goal was off a long run, had to put the hard work in by following up a great ball by Katie (Baran) and just put it in,” Wilson said. “It felt really good to score, it’s about time.”
The Vandals have the week off before they head to Boise to play in the Bronco Invitational at 2:30 p.m. Friday against Montana and at 10:30 a.m. Sunday against Boise State.
Madison McCord can be reached at email@example.com